Audiologist

Marilyn Feiner

Tell us about your work--what do you do? I work in the pediatric unit of a hospital where I evaluate and assess how well infants and children hear . One of my responsibilities is to determine if there is hearing loss and why: medical hearing loss versus sensorineural . I also fit hearing aids . What skills are needed? Patience and sensitivity since 80 percent of my case load is children. You also need to be somewhat expressive in your personality . If you're too deadpan, you'll turn off the patients and their parents. What was your major? Speech pathology and audiology . This isn't a double major; they fall under one university program. How did you get started in your career? I always wanted to be a speech pathologist until I enrolled in an internship that exposed me to clinical work in audiology . I discovered that I enjoyed audiology even more than speech pathology. In my first job, I worked at a school setting up auditory classrooms, which I found very rewarding. What experience do you need in this job? Jobs in this field require need a Masters degree in audiology . You must also pass a national certification test sponsored by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA ). Some hospitals and organizations will hire you during your clinical fellowship year. With regards to licensing, the requirements vary from state to state. For instance, in my job you need two licenses. One allows me to fit hearing aids and the other is the general state license. Once you receive your license(s), you are required to update and develop your skills through continuing education programs. Describe your "typical" work day: Busy. In the hospital where I work, we require universal screening for all babies who were admitted to the Neonatal ICU and healthy Newborn Nursery before discharge. Advances in technology enable me to detect hearing loss, even in newborns, by monitoring brain waves . We've discovered that early detection is key . The earlier in life that children are fitted with hearing aids, the greater their chances are for developing normal speech and language skills. Another portion of my day is spent screening other patients and meeting with their parents . I often refer patients to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for a diagnosis, so I regularly interact with people in that profession. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Telling new parents that their baby has hearing loss. Parents with older children already suspect something is wrong with their child's hearing, but the news comes as more of a shock to parents with newborns. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Seeing children with hearing aids bloom and catch up with their speech and language development. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Read about it. There are so many different places you can work as an audiologist such as nursing homes, private audiology offices, schools, ENT clinics, and hospitals . Scholarly journals and books can expose you to the vast array of jobs available in the field of audiology. Of course, nothing beats first-hand experience. You can call your local hospital and ask to observe their audiology department for a day or two . I love what I do because I know I'm making a difference in the quality of people's lives.